The United Nations asked Monday for $7.1 billion to pay for its humanitarian work around the world next year, with Sudan and its troubled Darfur region most in need and Afghanistan rising to second.
The money will go toward providing 48 million people in 25 countries with urgent aid such as tents, water and medicine, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urged countries not to cut back on humanitarian donations as they struggle with economic turmoil at home.
"The global recession has raised inevitable concerns that humanitarian funding may decline in 2010," Ban said in a statement. "I urge member states and private donors to keep that from happening."
The global body wants $1.9 billion to fund its operations in Sudan next year, down from $2.2 billion it asked for in 2009. Aid groups and U.N. agencies are responsible for meeting the basic needs of millions of Sudanese in the south and west of the country, where years of ethnic conflicts have led to widespread displacement and poverty.
In Afghanistan the global body wants $871 million to help returning refugees and subsistence farmers struggling with drought and ongoing insecurity eight years after the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban. The increase of almost one third from the $665 million the U.N. asked for Afghanistan last year puts the country second in the needs list, ahead of Congo ($828 million) and Somalia ($689 million).
The funding appeal rose steepest for Yemen, where the U.N. wants $177 million to help tens of thousands of civilians driven from their homes in recent months by a government offensive against rebels in the north.
Last year the U.N. originally asked donors for $7 billion, but additional appeals pushed the total figure for 2009 to $9.7 billion as conflicts in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Palestinian territory of Gaza demanded increased humanitarian responses. The global body said it received just under two-thirds of the money it asked for.